The Best Zero Turn Mowers mowers save you time and many are built to last many, many years. Of the almost 400 different models of zero-turns available on the market for 2020, about 150 of those models are designed specifically for residential use. They range in size and quality from inexpensive, economy models designed to mow your one-third acre lot to high performance, heavy-duty models designed to mow acres a day. Almost all of them are made in the U.S.A. by 30 different brands.
Deciding which one is best for you can be hard to do.
In this article, I’m going to discuss almost all the current brands of zero-turn mowers sold in the U.S. (Let me know if I miss one) I’ll give you a general description of the ZTRs they offer and give you my opinion of the mowers/brand in general. Currently, Toro, Ryobi, Ariens/Gravely, Cub Cadet, Husqvarna, John Deere, and Troy-Bilt are the most well-known brands mainly because they are sold at the “big box” retailers and spend the most on advertising. But, there are also twenty-some high-quality brands that are sold only at lawn and farm equipment dealers and have been around for years.
A quick history of zero-turn mowers:
- 1949 – Max Roper patents the first zero-turn mower. The Ride King. (look it up on Google)
- 1964 – John Regier patents the first hydraulically driven Zero-turn mower. Excel/Hustler manufactured it.
- 1974 – Dixon coined the term “zero-turn radius” with its mid-mount residential mower. Their mechanical cone-drive CVT transmission made mowing fun!
- 1980 – Walker introduces the first compact commercial zero-turn. If you want the very best cut the Walker is still the mower to beat today.
- 1984 – Shivvers Manufacturing creates the Country Clipper Zero Turn Mower. They produced many of the zero-turn mowers for other brands including Snapper up until 1995. They are still making quality mowers today under the Country Clipper brand.
- 1984-1995 – The market exploded and more than 50 manufactures entered the zero-turn mower market. Anyone remember the “Billy.?”
- 1995 – Bill Wright patents the stand-on mower and introduces the Wright Stander in 1997. Dane Scag is on the same mission and actually gets his Great Dane stand-on to market in 1996.
- 1995 – Exmark introduces the Lazer Z. It was the first commercial mid-mount zero-turn widely accepted by the lawn mowing contractors. Toro purchased Exmark in 1997 and the rest is history. The mid-mount zero-turn you buy today is heavily influenced by this one mower.
- 1997 – SCAG introduces the TURF TIGER. This was the second most popular mid-mount ZTR for many years.
- 1997 – 2020 – Today, even the least expensive residential zero-turn mowers are miles ahead of the ZTR’s built in the early 90’s. Many improvements have been made including better engines, better hydrostatic transmissions, better cutting decks, and stronger frames. The industry has matured nicely and as long as you are buying American made products you can expect almost all of the zero-turn mowers to cut well.
Residential Zero-Turn mowers generally come in deck sizes ranging from 30 to 72 inches.
I am not a big fan of the small 30-34 inch ZTR’s. The rider is wider than the deck so even with a mulch kit installed you can only trim on the left side. These small ZTR’s are tippy and have traction issues when turning and on slopes. Don’t buy one of the 32-34 inch models if you have a soft or sandy lawn. I definitely do not recommend a 30-34 inch zero turn mower as your first lawnmower. Buy a 42 inch or larger and rebuild your gate if it won’t fit through it.
I’m also not a fan of the 72-inch models for residential use. These big, heavy 6-foot decks work best for large, flat, wide-open areas. Residential models tend to be underpowered because the brands think you don’t want to spend an extra $500 on a commercial engine.
There are quite a few 42-46 inch deck models. These work well for your typical suburban 1/2 to 1-acre lawn with lots of flowerbeds and landscaping.
48-52 and 60-inch decks are the most popular sizes for residential zero-turns. The different brands all offer inexpensive models, mid-price models, and heavy-duty residential models. They work well on lawns from 1 to 10 acres or more.
I rate products differently than most sites. I’ve owned all types and brands of mid-mount zero-turn mowers since they were first introduced in the early 90’s. (I’ve been using front deck models since the 70’s.) I’ve used ZTR’s not only on “regular” lawns but I have also abused them on properties that were never meant to be mowed in all types of weather and growing conditions. I regularly attend GIE-EXPO and talk to the brands to learn about their zero-turn mowers. Here are some of the things I look at when helping you find the best mower for you:
- the build quality of the mower. Is the mower designed to last years?
- the price: Economy mowers up to $3500 – Mid-priced $3500-$6000 – Heavy-duty above $6000
- the craftsmanship: Features and attention to detail that make the mower/brand stand out
- the quality of cut for weekly mowing: Almost all ZTRs will clip 1-3 inches of growth evenly but many do not throw it out the side-discharge evenly or the deflector causes the clippings to clump.
- the quality of cut for rough lawns: Weight of the deck, deck support, size of the front casters and rear wheel all affect how well it mows rough lawns.
- the quality of cut for bi-weekly and longer grasses: A few brands make mowers that handle pastures, road ditches, etc.
- how well does it mulch: My definition of mulching well: For example, Bluegrass/Fescue/Perineal Ryegrass lawns. Set your cut height at 3 to 4 inches. How well does the mower cut 1-2 inches of additional growth. Does it cut it into fine particles and drop those clippings into the lawn? FYI: During late spring and early summer when the grass grows faster you may have to mow more often than once a week for your mower to mulch well. (If you can’t mow that often switch to side-discharge until the grass growth slows.)
- the dealer network: Many brands have excellent dealer support. One brand has no dealer support but uses regional repair centers. A few brands have few dealers but exceptional support from the brand itself.
- ease of warranty service: Can you bring it to any local dealer? Do you have to return it to where you purchased it? Or do they only have a remote repair center, etc?
- parts networks that support the product: online, by phone, local dealer, etc.
- Owner Reviews: There are many types of reviews and it’s hard to sort them out. You will find paid reviews, disgruntled owners, poor assembly by the retailer, etc. Some retailers use aggregate reviews where the reviews you are reading ar for different mowers and come from different sources.
- The reputation of the brand today. A few brands have come a long way in the last few years for quality, dealer support, and owner loyalty. A few have gotten much worse.
The best zero turn mower for you will be the one with friendly local service and parts availability.
If Consumer Reports or I tell you a particular model is the best but you have to drive 50 miles one way or call someone in Kansas to get a belt or set of blades – it’s not the best mower for you. The residential zero-turn market is very competitive and because of that, there are quite a few great mowers on the market and your local dealer usually sells one or two of those brands. In other words, there are many mowers that cut well, are built well, will last for you that have a local servicing dealer in your area.
Consumer Reports tests are very specific and they only test a fraction of the zero-turn mowers on the market. “Trust me” we can find the best mower for you that will last you many years and it may not have been tested by Consumer Reports.
Zero-Turn Mower Brands – The List
This list is on no particular order.
Toro Residential Zero-Turn Riding Mowers
Toro makes a complete line of zero-turn riding mowers. (They offer commercial mowers that can mow over 20 acres an hour!) So they have the experience to create for you residential mowers that are built to last and cut well. Toro also offers many unique features like Smart Speed and MyRide.
Toro has the most comfortable zero-turn mower on the market – period. Toro makes many different mowers but the Toro MyRIDE is the best riding mower for rough lawns. The MyRIDE suspension system has comfort features providing ultimate comfort and a smooth ride. It includes three coil-over-shock assemblies supporting the operator platform, adjustable rear shocks and a deluxe, thickly padded seat with armrests. Not just the seat has suspension but the entire operator’s platform cushions you from the bumps and jerks of the mower.
If you want the best ride and the best cut possible in a mid-mount residential zero-turn the 50″ TimeCutter® MyRIDE® Zero Turn Mower (75755) is the mower for you! It is the new gold standard for the best cut that everyone else is trying to beat.
For 2020 Toro has updated and simplified the residential lines. Finding the right Toro for you is now even easier.
- One of the best features for the homeowner is Toro uses a “Smart Speed” lever that reduces the load on your ZT-2200 transmissions when pulling loads with your mower. This greatly increases the life expectancy of the transmissions. If you aerate, pull a lawn sweeper and hauls 300-500 lb loads in your yard cart Toro is the best choice!
- Toro® Commercial V-Twin engines were specifically created to deliver optimal performance by matching the torque curve of the engines to the needs of the Toro decks they power. Intelligent design and tight tolerances help the governor respond faster with more power when you need it, so you’re ready to handle your toughest outdoor tasks. There are a few models available with Kohler or Kawasaki engines.
- 10-gauge steel frames, heavy-duty engine guards and large caster forks for added durability. Heavy-duty cast iron and steel front axle provide years of dependable performance.
- Toro’s unique braking system automatically stops the mower deck and sets the parking brake when you need to get off the mower while keeping the engine running.
- The fabricated decks are welded together from plates of 10-gauge steel and have a bull-nose bumper along the entire front edge. This deck can handle tough conditions. (The lower the gauge the thicker the steel.)
- Hydro-Gear® ZT-2100/ZT-2200 Transaxles on the TimeCutter and Hydro-Gear® ZT-2800/ZT-3100 Transaxles on the Titan.
- 3 year unlimited hour residential warranty
I have separate articles describing the 2020 Toro Time Cutter and Titan residential zero-turn mowers.
Ryobi Cordless Electric Residential Zero Turn!
Ryobi sells exclusively through The Home Depot.
I’ve spent 40 years waiting for the right electric riding mower. Over the years I’ve tried every one that’s hit the market and even bought the GE ElecTrak, but up until this point, all of them have had been very disappointing. Following on the sensational 2-year success of their electric-rider, it appears that the Ryobi has made the right zero-turn electric riding mower for homeowners.
Note: This is not a heavy-duty zero-turn. It is designed for your “normal” residential 1/2 to 2-acre lawn that you mow weekly. I don’t recommend it for rough lawns, pulling heavy loads, hills or if you expect your mower to last twenty years. It’s electric and it mows well…
The new Ryobi 42 inch zero turn mower will mow a little over two acres on one charge of its SLA batteries. So this 42-inch zero turn mower is a great choice for suburban homeowners with 1/3 to 2 acres to mow. Combine this mower with a brushless string trimmer, leaf blower, hedge trimmer, chain saw and snowblower and many of us will be able to throw away our gas can and not worry about fuel problems again. The only maintenance this mower really needs is to clean under the deck and check/replace the mower blades every 25 hours.
3-year Limited Warranty. The battery warranty is for one year only.
Not sure if the Ryobi Electric Zero-Turn is the best choice for you? Check out this article: Going green – The Best 2020 Electric Riding Mowers, Lawn Tractors and ZTRs
Buy Here with free delivery at The Home Depot:
Other Online Ryobi Retailers, I Trust: Home Depot is the exclusive retailer for Ryobi mowers
Ariens Residential Zero-Turn Riding Mowers:
Just so you know Ariens is part of Ariens Co. which includes Ariens and Gravely brands here in the U.S. Ariens focuses on snowblowers, power brushes, and residential zero-turn mowers. Gravely focuses on commercial zero-turns, commercial walk-behinds and other landscaping equipment like the Pro-QXT two-wheeled tractor.
Ariens sells through local dealers, Lowes, and a few other retailers.
Over the last three years, Ariens has completely redesigned the residential models.
The new Ariens Edge is an excellent mower at a reasonable price. In fact, it is arguably the best economy zero-turn on the market this year. If you are looking at a Troy-Bilt, ZT1 Cub Cadet, Husqvarna or any of the entry-level residential mowers from the other brands also look at the EDGE.
The IKON XD is one of the few mid-priced ZTRs that will mow higher grass well. If you have a lot of roadways and soil erosion waterways that you don’t mow every week the IKON XD is a great choice. If you are looking at a Hustler Raptor or Bad Boy MZ seriously look at the Ariens mowers before you buy.
The Ariens Apex is a heavy-duty residential mower that’s big, beefy and will last you years. If you are looking at a Hustler Fastrak or Bad Boy ZT Elite seriously look at the Ariens mowers before you buy.
The Ariens Zenith is a commercial-grade ZTR that will handle the biggest properties and last you many years.
One of the best features about Ariens is you can buy your mower from a retailer and ANY authorized Ariens dealer will handle the warranty repairs if needed. Your local Ariens dealer will gladly perform the normal maintenance all mowers require.
Features on the Edge and IKON XD:
- The deck uses thicker steel than most of the other mowers in this price range. This COMMERCIAL-STYLE DECK 4 1/2” deep fabricated deck delivers maximum airflow in challenging mowing conditions. In fact, the IKON XD models cut longer grass better than almost all other residential mowers.
- 4-point hanging deck. Especially appreciated if you have a lot of dips and bumps in your lawn – Commercial-style 4-point deck suspension creates a more level cut when going over uneven terrain.
- Fully tubular steel frame rails. They are strong and more resistant to stresses than channel frame ZTRs.
- Plush, adjustable high-back seats with armrests on the IKON XD give you a comfortable and more ergonomic ride.
- Ariens was one of the first with the easy to use dial-operated cut height. 13 positions from 1 1/2 to 4 1/2 inches. Just turn the dial.
- Kohler 7000 and Kawasaki FR engine options on the IKON XD. Kohler 6000 or Briggs Intek on the Edge
- Hydro-Gear® ZT-2200 Transaxles on the Edge and IKON XD
- Backed by Ariens 3 year/300 hour limited warranty (whichever occurs first, see warranty download for full program details)
Please go to Ariens.com to locate your nearest dealer.
Gravely Residential Zero-Turn Riding Mowers:
Just so you know Gravely is part of Ariens Co. which includes Ariens and Gravely brands here in the U.S. Ariens focuses on snowblowers, power brushes, and residential zero-turn mowers. Gravely focuses on commercial zero-turns, commercial walk-behinds, and other landscaping equipment like the Pro-QXT two-wheeled tractor.
Gravely sells through local dealers.
Gravley does offer residential models equivalent to the Ariens IKON XD, Apex, and Zenith models.
So, if you have been looking at an Ariens mower but you don’t have an Ariens dealer in your area go to Gravely.com and see if there is a Gravely dealer instead. You’ll get the same great mower – just painted red.
Please go to and Gravely.com to locate your nearest dealer.
Cub Cadet Ultima Residential Zero-Turn Riding Mowers
Cub Cadet has quietly become one of the largest manufacturers of zero-turn mowers and they now make twenty-eight different residential zero-turn mowers ranging from $2699 ZT1 42 to the $8200 ZTX6 60 EFI. The residential models are consistently rated by the product review sites that actually test the mowers as the best cutting residential riding lawn mowers. The new Ultima mowers feature the well-respected Kohler, Kawasaki, and Cub Cadet engines.
Cub Cadet listened to you and did extensive research with focus groups to design a whole new residential zero-turn platform for 2019. Gone is the stamped chassis and poor serviceability of the previous residential ZTRs. I am very excited about the new Cub Cadet Ultima Series. It is a real step up for Cub Cadet and will bring the entire residential zero-turn rider market to the next level of performance, durability, and ease of use.
The new Cub Cadet Ultima Series Zero Turn Riders use a 2 inch continuously welded square tube frame for structural strength. The unique style really stands out.
Some nice features on the Cub Cadet Ultima Series include:
- Large front and rear tires for a better ride, less turf damage and less ground pressure for soft soils.
- Large lap bar grips for comfort. Instead of foam, a nice, heavy padded grip gives you a real positive and comfortable feel. The lap bars are fully and easily adjustable for operator comfort.
- Flip-up floorboard for easy cleaning and rubber floormat to dampen vibration
- New padded comfort seats and seat isolators smooth out the bumps.
- The control panel makes it very easy to view your keypad, hour meter, PTO and control system.
- Offset front axle so you can trim better.
- LED headlights and a rear tow hitch some standard
- AeroForce™ 11-gauge fabricated, Signature Cut 13-gauge stamped decks, and 10 gauge AeroForce™ commercial deck are available on the various models.
- 1-4.5 inch cutting height! The Cub Cadet Ultima Series did a nice job for your mower deck lift. Instead of a hand lift, there is a foot pedal assist with a simple knob. The 15 different cutting height settings are easy to view. Adjustments are in quarter-inch increments.
- Depending on the model the Ultima Series uses Kohler 7000 Series Kawasaki FR691V Series, Kawasaki FS or Cub Cadet V-Twin OHV engines.
- Hydro-Gear® ZT-2200 Transaxles on the ZT1 and Hydro-Gear® ZT-2800 Transaxles on the ZT2. Heavier duty Hydro-Gear transmissions on the ZT3-ZT6 series.
- ZT1 – 3-year/unlimited-hour warranty plus a limited lifetime warranty on frame and fabricated deck shell. ZTX4 – 4-year, 500-hour warranty / limited lifetime frame and fabricated deck shell
Click on the links below to read more about all the Cub Cadet zero-turn mowers and buy:
The Ultima ZT series is available at The Home Depot., Select models will also be available from Tractor Supply, Farm & Fleet, and at your local Cub Cadet dealer. All models are available online through cubcadet.com. Online shopping made easy from Cub Cadet. Buy online through cubcadet.com and schedule your product to be delivered right to you, ready to work. If you need it sooner, you can pick-up your order from your selected dealer the next day.
Husqvarna Residential Zero-Turn Riding Mowers
Husqvarna has a lot of economy zero-turns for sale at various retailers but the three listed here are the new, redesigned models with the Clear-Cut decks These new models feature a great seat, easy deck lift and they cut and bag well. CR states that Husqvarna is one of the more repair-prone brands but these models are too new to fall into that general category they put them in. In other words, if you buy one of the models listed below it will last just as long and any other economy zero-turn.
Husqvarna sells through local dealers, Lowes, Tractor Supply Co., ACME Tool and a few other retailers.
What’s innovative about the ClearCut® deck? Available on select models of Husqvarna riding mowers, the redesigned ClearCut® cutting deck delivers a perfect cut on imperfect terrain. By generating substantial air flow, the patented baffle system raises grass blades for a clean and precise cut from one side of the deck to the other. Whether you prefer discharge, mulch or collection-based mowing, the ClearCut® deck will exceed your expectations.
3-year bumper-to-bumper warranty promises worry-free ownership
All the models listed use the ZT2200 transmissions.
- Husqvarna Z242F 18 HP, 603cc Kawasaki Ready Start, 42in. Cutting Deck, available at Northern Tool
- Husqvarna Z248F 21.5 HP, 726cc Kawasaki 48 inch Clear Cut Fabricated Deck available at Northern Tool
- Husqvarna Zero Turn Z254F 26hp 54in 967 84 49-01 available at ACME Tools
Husqvarna also makes Red Max, Poulan Pro, and Jonsered Zero Turn Mowers.
John Deere Residential Zero-Turn Riding Mowers
If you want the best cut possible in a mid-mount residential zero-turn the John Deere 300 series mowers are hard to beat! Yes, there are other mowers that have stronger, fabricated decks, are more comfortable, and have larger frames but there are very few that cut as well as these John Deere Zero-Turns.
John Deere sells through local dealers, The The Home Depot, Lowes and a few other retailers. The models sold at the big box stores are the same mowers you can buy at the dealers. In addition, the dealer have more models available.
- One of the reasons John Deere decks cut better than all the rest is because they use a deep stamped deck. Because there are no sharp corners or edges inside the deck this style of deck gives superior airflow under the deck. That creates the best lift to cut your grass evenly and the best airflow discharge to get the grass out from under the deck. The Z345 and Z355 Accel Deep decks are built just as tough as competitors fabricated decks.
- The 300 series is competitively priced with the other residential zero-turns. Yes, the least expensive model is a little more than the competitor’s model because most models include free White Glove professional setup and delivery. When the mower arrives at your home from The Home Depot or your local John Deere dealer it is ready to mow. No shredded belts because the teenager at the big box store did not assemble it correctly. Even the model you pick up at The Home Depot is John Deere Tech inspected, tested and supported. A John Deere authorized technician will perform a thorough 10 point pre-delivery inspection on all new John Deere zero-turn mowers before they are ready to take home.
- The John Deere ZTrak series zero turn riders operate very smoothly and have comfortable handles.
- The new John Deere 300 series of economy ZTRs features an Accel deep dome deck that side discharges well, bags well, and is one of the best mulching decks available in this price range. The 500 series offers High Capacity decks for mowing speed up to 9 MPH!
- 7.0 mph mowing speed on 300 series – 9 mph on 500 series
- 2-year/120-hour bumper-to-bumper warranty
42-inch size is a good choice for up to 2 acres. 48 inch is good for 1-3 acres and will mow a rough lawn better than the 54-inch models. 54 is good for those of you who have a large lawn and want to get it cut as quickly as possible.
NOTE: There are three levels of options on the 300 and 500 series.
- Models ending in R have the most options like an adjustable seat, armrests, premium lap bars, floor mat, and foot assist deck height
- Models ending in M have adjustable seat, armrests
- Models ending in E have no extra features.
Buy Here with free delivery at The Home Depot: John Deere ZTRs at the Home Depot
Not Recommended: Z335E ZTrak™ Mower 20 hp (14.9 kW)* full-pressure engine 42-in. Accel Deep™ Deck at Lowes. All John Deere ZTRs come with armrests except this one. When driving a ZTR your arms are extended straight out in front of you. Armrests are important on a ZTR because it helps to keep your shoulders from getting sore. Trust me – spend the extra $100 on the Z335M and get the armrests – you’ll be glad you did!
Troy-Bilt Residential Zero-Turn Riding Mowers
If you are looking for a good, economical zero-turn for your suburban lawn I highly recommend the Troy-Bilt.
Troy-Bilt sells through local dealers, The Home Depot, Troy-Bilt.com and a few other retailers.
The most notable features that are different from Cub Cadet:
- Troy-Bilt uses a 13 gauge stamped deck that cuts, baggs and mulches very well. Cub Cadet has both stamped and fabricated decks available.
- Deck Lift – The Troy-Bilt uses a 7 position lever. The Cub Cadet has a 13 position dial with foot assist lift
- Cutting Height – 1.25 to 3.75. The Cub Cadet will adjust from 1-4.5 inches
- Frame – Both have the fully welded 2-inch square tube frame
- Engine – Troy-Bilt uses the Troy-Bilt Branded engines. Cub Cadet uses the Kohler, Kawasaki, and Cub Cadet engines.
- Lights – Troy-Bilt none. Cub Cadet has wide area LEDs
- Warranty – Troy-Bilt 3 years. Cub Cadet 3 years.
Check out my latest article on the Troy-Bilt Mustang Zero-Turn Mowers here: Troy-Bilt Zero-Turn Mower Review – Inexpensive Quality ZTRs
The entire Troy-Bilt line of ZTRs and Lawn Tractors are available with free shipping at: Troy-Bilt.com
Walker Model R Residential Zero-Turn Riding Mowers:
As a mowing contractor, I’ve owned Walker mowers over the years and there is nothing else like them! If you want the absolute best cut the Walker R21 is the best choice. The front deck independently rides over the turf and follows all the ground contours to give you the most even cut possible. Its low center of gravity lets the Model R go more places than any other residential lawnmower.
The Model R is designed for residential use but uses the same commercial decks found on the Walker commercial mowers.
Walker sells through local dealers. Go to Walker.com to set up a demo from one.
The R21 is the ideal machine for residential properties. Featuring a powerful 21 HP Kohler KT620 with Smart-Choke technology, this machine is a premium Walker Mower priced for residential owners. Tilt-open seat and tilt-up deck are designed for easy maintenance access.
Power: 21 HP
Engine: Kohler KT620
Ideal Application: Residential Properties
Key Attributes: Agile, Accessible, Compact
Standard Options: 18 x 8.5-8 Turf Tire, Standard Seat
Decks: 42 or 48-inch side discharge commercial deck.
Popular Add-ons: Comfort Seat, LED Headlight Kit, Mulch Kit, Accelerator Grass Catcher
Check out this video: Introducing The All New Walker Model R
Hustler Raptor and Big Dog Residential Zero-Turn Riding Mowers
Excel Industries is known for producing the first lever-steer hydraulically driven zero-turn mower. Since then they have built a wide range of mowers ranging from cheap residential zero-turn to dependable commercial zero-turns to high production mowers designed for airports. Today they have a full range of mowers including the cheapest zero-turn on the market (the Dash.)
Depending on where you live the Hustler or Big Dog mowers are very popular. They make a full line of residential and commercial mowers. If a Hustler or Big Dog mower is on your shortlist feel free to ask and I’ll help you find the best one for you.
Hustler makes four economy models in the Raptor line. A 36 inch, 42 inch, 52 inch, and a 52-inch special edition. As usual, I don’t recommend the 36 inch. Most people who buy these mowers like them. The majority of the complaints come from the initial assembly when Lowes was selling them. So, I suggest if you want a Hustler – buy it from a local dealer. The local dealers will assemble it out of the crate correctly and test everything to make sure it is ready to mow. This ZTR is designed for flat and gently sloping lawns.
Hustler Dash: Some of you may want the cheapest ZTR on the market. Right now that is the Hustler Dash. Be Aware it uses a “tiny” 10.5 hp Briggs PowerMore engine and the smallest zero-turn transmissions available. (HydroGear ZT-1800) Yes, it will mow your 1/3 to 1/2 acre flat, smooth lawn but please don’t expect it to do ANYTHING else.
BigDog: Big Dog is Excel’s dealer only brand and are basically the same mowers as the Hustler. They usually have an extra feature or two over the Hustler Models.
Big Dog: 7 Year (4-7yrs. parts only) / 300 hours
Hustler: 3-year / no hour limit limited warranty
Country Clipper Residential Zero-Turn Mowers
I’ve been a big fan of Country Clipper since the mid-’90s. Country Clipper makes a full range of residential models but I particularly like the XLT model. It is a premium, fully loaded series that provides commercial quality and unique features for residential needs.
Country Clipper offers an optional front step and full-length grab bars so people with disabilities (and old people like myself) can get on and off the mower easier. The Joy Stick control allows the ZTR to be driven with one hand. All models feature a flip-up deck for easy blade maintenance.
Country Clipper sells through local dealers. Check out the mowers here: Country Clipper
- Stand-Up Deck – All Country Clipper Mowers feature a patented Stand-Up Deck for quick, easy under deck access.
- Heavy Duty Welded Steel Deck – ensures superior strength and durability.
- Low Center of Gravity – Gas tank is designed to fit under the seat allowing a low center of gravity for optimum handling.
- ContourDTS – Through the integration of a Center Pivoting Front Axle & Dual-Independent Deck Suspension technology, Country Clipper’s Contour Deck Tracking System delivers maximum comfort, superior traction and unprecedented quality of cut.
- Joystick Steering System – Exclusive Point and Go Joystick allows for ease of operation. Or – Twin Lever Steering System
Country Clipper also offers twin lever steering, if you desire a more traditional feel.
- Commercial Grade Forks and Castor Wheels – Fabricated Steel forks with 13 inch tires.
- Warranty: First 2 Years – Parts & Labor, 3rd Year – Parts Only, 4th & 5th Year – Frame & Deck Weldment, Parts
Bad Boy Residential Zero-Turn Riding Mowers
Bad Boy Mower is known for its almost fluorescent orange paint and their extravagant display booths at the trade shows. Tractor Supply Company carries a few models that fit into the economy category, the 42 and 54 inch Bad Boy Magnum MZ.
Bad Boy sells through local dealers and Tractor Supply Co
When the MZ Magnum residential zero-turn first came out there were more than a few customers who complained about the cut but this is not that mower. Bad Boy redesigned the MZ Magnum and it now has a new 7 gauge fabricated deck. One thing I find interesting is on the Bad Boy website they only suggest this for 1.5 acres a week. That’s only 45 minutes or so run time per week. I don’t get it.
2-year limited warranty
The price is a little higher than most of the mowers in this class/size so I suggest also looking at the Ariens Ikon XD and Cub Cadet if you want a fabricated deck. Check it out here: Bad Boy MZ Magnum 42 or 54 inch at Tractor Supply Company
Bradley Stand-On Mowers
How can they do that?
- They are a small manufacturer located south of Chicago. They basically only build the mower when you order it and don’t keep a lot of mowers in inventory.
- They use the very best commercial grade parts but don’t add any features you don’t need.
- They only make stand-on and walk-behind mowers.
- 3-year residential warranty
The mowers are considered commercial grade but because they cost so much less than most other brands it is worth your time if you want a good stand-on mower instead of a sit-down model.
Bradley sells through bradleymowers.com and local dealers.
If you can do your own maintenance and want a rugged mower that cuts great and will last you many years check them out! Bradley Mowers
Kubota Residential Zero-Turn Riding Mowers
Kubota only sells through dealers but one of the upper midwest tool stores I trust is now offering them online: Kubota ZTRs at ACME Tools
- Powerful engines tackle even the most difficult mowing jobs.
- A simple twist of a dial lets you adjust the cutting height in precise 1/4 In. increments.
- All controls and indicators are neatly placed for quick, easy, user-friendly access.
- Big tires mean a softer ride and these wide-tread tires provide better traction and weight distribution to help protect the lawn.
- Optional grass catcher attaches and detaches easily without the use of any tools.
- Optional mulching kit comes fitted with baffles to contain clippings for optional mulching performance.
- Optional mower lift assist allows you to adjust the deck height with less leg strength.
- Optional LED headlights allow you to work late into the evening.
- Optional suspension seat provides comfort even on rough yards
- The low-maintenance, integrated design delivers outstanding power and operational efficiency to the wheels and mower deck.
- This 10 gauge steel, welded mower deck provides outstanding, professional-level cutting performance.
- Dual operation levers provide the smooth, precise control you’ll need for delicate trimming and work around trees and flowerbeds.
- For safety and peace of mind, all Kommander mowers are equipped with a full-height ROPs.
- The seat slides a full 4 In. forward and back, letting you find just the right position for maximum personal comfort.
- There’s plenty of legroom up front, thanks to a wide foot pan.
- Keep your drink cup or tumbler always handy in the integrated cup holders.
- Warranty: 48 Months or 300 Hours (whichever occurs first)
ACME now has the entire Kubota Line available! If you are interested you can read more about this mower and the full line here: Kubota ZTRs at ACME Tools
Exmark Zero-Turn Riding Mowers
By 1995 when Exmark introduced the Lazer Z there were already quite a few zero-turn mowers on the market but the Lazer Z was the first mid-mount model widely accepted by the commercial mowing operators. It was compact yet tough and you could fit three of them in the same space on a trailer that one Toro Groundsmaster took up. Even today, twenty-five years later, the Lazer Z is still the mower most mid-mount ZTRs are trying to beat.
ExMark does not have an economy residential model. The lowest price option is the ExMark Quest. These are dealer only models with fabricated decks. I personally own the 42-inch fabricated deck steering wheel model and it cuts and drives great! If you don’t have access to the Toro brand these are a good alternative. They are very similar to the Toro Titan and larger models.
Check out the mowers here: Exmark Mowers
Scag Residential Zero-Turn Riding Mowers:
Scag sells through local dealers. Check out the mowers here: Scag Mowers
While I highly recommend their commercial line of the ZTRs I very seldom recommend the residential Liberty Z. It is a short mower with small front tires so it does very well for lawn with intricate landscaping but is not the best riding mower for rough lawns and lawns with soft soils.
Bob-Cat Residential Zero-Turn Riding Mowers:
Bob-Cat is another brand that has been around for a long time. Unless you have a local dealer though you’ve probably never heard of them. Originally owned by Schiller Grounds Care (they make the Mantis tiller) they are now owned by Bobcat (the company that makes the skid-steer loaders)
BobCat sells through local dealers. Check out the mowers here: BobCat Mowers
The CRZ residential model is a mid-level residential mower with heavy-duty transmissions. If you have a rough lawn, hills, and 2 or more acres it is a good choice. They have one of the longest warranties in the industry.
Altoz Residential Zero-Turn Riding Mowers:
From Altoz: “Based in Greenbush, Minnesota, Altoz puts over 30 years of engineering and manufacturing expertise into all Altoz products. With over 240 dedicated employees, we’re proudly building the next generation of precision mowers, right here in the USA.
Altoz zero-turn mowers are an evolution – a vision of what we believe mowers should be. Cutting-edge design that delivers premium performance with exceptional comfort, reliability and ease of use. Everything we do is a commitment to realizing that vision.
To deliver an evolutionary mower, every component needs to perform flawlessly and exceed expectations. We won’t make just another run-of-the-mill mower. Nothing less than superior quality will do.“
Altoz sells through local dealers. Check out the mowers here: Altoz Mowers
At $5699 the Altoz XR is their cheapest residential mower and it has more features, stronger transmissions, and more options than most of the other brands. They ride great, cut great and I expect the mowers to last a very long time.
Spartan Residential Zero-Turn Riding Mowers:
Spartan is an interesting marketing application. Let’s take a conventional zero-turn and make it look beefy, manly and Transformer looking – let’s add features that no one else has like triple jointed armrests and a 2-inch receiver slot in the rear. The owner, Robert Foster, built twelve prototypes in his garage over the summer of 2015 and then kept them secret until the big L&G dealer show (GIE-EXPO) that October. He then sprung them on the world at two-thirds the price of the current market.
Spartan sells through local dealers. Check out the mowers here: Spartan Mowers
Spartan recently introduced the RZ series residential zero-turns. Starting around $4200 you can build one exactly the way you want it with over 35 different options. They are one of the few manufactures that use Tuff-Torq hydraulic drives instead of the HydroGear hydrostatic transmissions. The TZ-400 drives they are using have the same specs as the Hydro-Gear ZT 2800.
Swisher Residential Zero-Turn Riding Mowers:
Swisher is known for the original zero-turn mower – the Ride-King, in-ground tornado shelters, and their extensive line of pull-behind lawn and brush mowers. They’ve been also producing ZTR mowers for many years. The Response 2 is their latest mower introduced about 5 years ago. It’s a heavy-duty mower and has unique pistol grip steering levers.
The problem for me is I’ve never seen one in person, test drove one, or found a YouTube review of one.
Swisher sells online through many retailers and through local dealers.
Bush Hog Residential Zero-Turn Riding Mowers:
Bush Hog Zero-Turn Mowers have been around since the early 90’s and many of those first mowers are still mowing lawns today. Bush Hog has always been know for tough, dependable mowers and the ZTRs are no exception.
All their mowers have 7ga or thicker decks.
From Bush-Hog. “Our Zero-Turn Mowers continue the Bush Hog legacy of renowned durability, outstanding value, and built for years of performance.
They’re perfect for commercial landscapers and homeowners with large lawns and acreage. They’re built to last and easy to maintain.
Whether you’re a lawn care professional who requires productivity and dependability, or a homeowner who wants professional results in a fraction of the time, Bush Hog has the mower to meet your needs. Review our website, then visit a dealer and let them put the perfect package of features and benefits together for you.”
Remember, “If it doesn’t say Bush Hog it just won’t cut it.”
Bush Hog sells through local farm equipment dealers. Check out the mowers here: Bush Hog Zero Turn Mowers
BUSH HOG® HDE-3 HEAVY-DUTY HOMEOWNER SERIES ZERO-TURN MOWER
FOR HOMEOWNER WITH ACREAGE OR ESTATE OWNER
Dixie Chopper Residential Zero-Turn Riding Mowers:
Dixie Chopper was recently purchased by the Alamo Group. Alamo is one of the largest manufacturers of farm and industrial equipment and the mowers are already being made at Alamo’s Gibson City, Il plant.
So, in addition to the existing Dixie Chopper dealers expect to see the mowers show up at just about every farm equipment and rural lifestyle dealership in the country soon.
Check out the mowers here: Dixie Chopper Mowers
Mean Green Residential Zero-Turn Riding Mowers:
Mean Green sells through local dealers. Check it out here: Mean Green Nemesis
The Nemesis is a powerful zero-turn that can handle up to 1.5 hours of mowing (about 3 acres) on its small LEM4880 Green Lithium Battery™ or up to 2.5 hours of mowing (about 5 acres) on its large LEM48140 Green Lithium Battery™. This makes the Nemesis ideal for both residential and light commercial properties. With the available multiple battery sizes, the Nemesis can be adapted for whatever the job requires. The Green Lithium batteries will last up to 5 times longer than old-style lead-acid batteries, providing 1500-3000 mowing hours.
Wright Residential Zero-Turn Riding Mowers:
Wright sells through local dealers. Check out the mowers here: Wright Mowers
If you have a large, intricate lawn with numerous landscaping features and also large wide-open areas to mow the Sport® X Gen2 is worth looking at. It gives you the best features of a stand-on mower and the ability to sit down and ride for the larger parts of your lawn. If you are normally spending 5 manhours or more a week mowing and trimming this may be just the mower for you!
WorldLawn Residential Zero-Turn Riding Mowers:
WorldLawn sells through local dealers. Check out the mowers here: WorldLawn Mowers
Do you remember Encore zero-turn mowers? A Chinese company purchased Encore a while back and renamed it WorldLawn. They have improved and expanded the line over the years. They continue to make the mowers in Beatrice, KS. Most of their dealers are located in major metropolitan areas and I highly suggest that you check out the dealer before you buy one. They do make one model that is interesting to me. If you have one or two large, flat lawns their sidewinder wing mower is a good way to double your mowing width without adding another operator
Craftsman Residential Zero-Turn Riding Mowers
The current Craftsman ZTRs are made by MTD for Stanley, Balck & Decker. MTD owns Troy-Bilt and Cub Cadet. The Craftsman ZTRs you see at Lowes and are similar to the Troy-Bilt ZTRs but not exactly the same. They are very different than the Cub Cadet mowers.
Craftsman has changed. There are now two Craftsman brands. Craftsman at Sears is the brand you knew and loved in the past. Craftsman SBD is new and owned by Stanley Black & Decker. So – I’m going to spend more time here explaining what Craftsman is than talking about the actual zero-turn mowers. If you understand all the different “Craftsman’s” you will be better at deciding if a Craftsman ZTR is the best mower for you.
Last year Stanley Black & Decker purchased the Craftsman name from Sears. As part of that sale, Sears is still able to sell Craftsman branded merchandise but the products will be different than the Craftsman products from Stanley Black & Decker. Let me explain how that affects Zero-Turn Mowers.
Craftsman at Sears: Craftsman Branded Mowers sold on sears.com and Sears Stores are still the products you are familiar with. The zero-turn mowers have not changed for 2020 but most are not available at this time. They are warrantied and serviced through Sear Repair Services. All parts and all parts for the older Craftsmans are available through searspartsdirect.com. Sears Hometown Store, and Sears Outlet, This includes Craftsman Professional mowers. Currently, all Craftsman mowers at Sears are listed “out-of-stock” and it is unclear if or when they will be available.
Craftsman SBD: The mowers from Craftsman SBD (Stanley Black & Decker) are new. Currently, these Craftsman branded mowers are sold at Lowes, Ace, Farm & Fleet, and Amazon. It appears Craftsman SBD also took ownership of the website craftsman.com. There you can find warranty information and where to get repairs for your ZTR. It appears parts and service will be done through their ServiceNet Website.
Besides buying the Craftsman brand Stanley Black & Decker also purchased a stake in MTD last year. What that means for you is all of the mowers, lawn tractors and snow blowers that have the Craftsman SBD name will be made by MTD.
The new Craftsman SBD is based on the same basic chassis as the new Cub Cadet Ultima XT1. It’s $100 less than the Cub Cadet but lacks many of the features that the Cub Cadet has. At this point in time, I suggest spending a little extra and buying the Cub Cadet.
The most notable features that are different:
- Deck Lift – The Craftsman SBD uses a 7 position lever. The Cub Cadet has a 13 position dial with foot assist lift
- Cutting Height – Craftsman SBD 1.25 to 3.75. The Cub Cadet will adjust from 1-4.5 inches
- Frame – Both have the fully welded frame but the Cub Cadet has additional frame members in the rear to protect the engine.
- Engine – Craftsman SBD uses the Briggs & Stratton Platinum. Cub Cadet use the Kohler 7000 and Kawasaki engines. All are extended life full pressure engines. (Better for hills and longer life compared to the B&S Intek)
- Lights – Craftsman SBD none. Cub Cadet has wide area LEDs
- Warranty – Craftsman SBD 2 years through Stanley Black & Decker. Cub Cadet 3 years through MTD and their large Cub Cadet dealer network.
Ferris/Simplicity/Snapper/Briggs & Stratton Residential Zero-Turn Riding Mowers:
It appears Briggs & Stratton just put up the Ferris/Simplicity/Snapper lawn & garden division up for sale. This includes Ferris, Simplicity, and Snapper brand names. Check out the article here: Briggs & Stratton Announces Strategic Repositioning Plan
Ferris/Simplicity/Snapper/Briggs & Stratton sells through local dealers.
Simplicity and Snapper both sell a zero-turn with the EZT transmissions but as far as I know they are only available through your local Simplicity or Snapper dealer. CR does not rate the Simplicity but unfortunately, they consistently give its twin, the Snapper 360Z, the lowest rating for ZTRs. I have not used one enough to verify if I agree with their rating or not. The only complaint I have with the Simplicity Courier™ Zero Turn Mower is I wish they would have put a small tailgate on the integrated cargo bed. The “The exclusive Suspension Comfort System™ complete with front or front & rear suspension allows you to feel 25% less impact while operating, resulting in enhanced comfort versus a non-suspension zero turn mower” Suspends the entire mower – not just the operator. Because of that, you may experience an uneven cut on really rough lawns because the deck moves up and down with the rest of the mower. If you have a rough lawn please demo it on your lawn first before you buy – or just pass and buy the Toro MyRide!
Beast Residential Zero-Turn Riding Mowers:
Beast is sold online only through a few big box store retailers. For fear of a lawsuit, I am not going to give you my opinion of these Chinese made mowers.
To Finish up: My definition of a residential zero-turn. (ZTR)
A typical Residential ZTR has the economy ZT-2200 dual hydrostatic transmissions or the heavier duty ZT-2800 and costs between $2200 and $5000. These zero-turns are designed to replace your lawn tractor/riding mower and save you time when mowing. These mowers are great for flat and lawns with slopes up to 15 degrees. Most models have a hitch and will pull a small yard cart, sweeper or dethatcher.
The residential zero-turns in the past used the same deck as a lawn tractor but most are now using deep dish and/or fabricated decks that last longer, cut better, and mow faster than your old tractor. These new decks and the better agility of a zero-turn will allow you to mow your lawn is much less time than with a lawn tractor. To help you find the right size for your lawn please read Best Zero Turn Mowers Buying Guide 2019 – How To Choose The Right One.
Retailers I Trust
Today, many of you want to purchase online and most residential zero-turn mowers are now available online. I’ll include buying links from businesses I trust wherever possible. If I missed a brand available for sale online that’s not listed please ask about it in the comments at the end of this article.
Buying Online: Home Depot has quietly become the best place to buy zero-turn mowers online. Why? Because they carry the brands most people want and their pricing is competitive. They carry exactly the same items as dealers. In most areas of the country, they work closely with local dealers to get any warranty problems resolved quickly. Be very careful buying from other big-box retailers because they either send your mower off to some far away “repair center” where it can sit for months or they don’t have any agreements with local dealers for warranty work. If you chose to buy from a big-box store other than The Home Depot be sure you understand warranty repairs and how/where they are performed before you buy!
Here are a few other online retailers I trust to take care of you when you buy a mower from them. I will include links to their sites as appropriate: Farm & Fleet, ACME Tools, Tractor Supply Co., and Northern Tool. You can also have a great experience if you buy from Amazon themselves and a few resellers on Amazon. (If you find a mower you want on Amazon from a reseller ask me in the comments at the end of this article about that seller)
Other Review Websites: I’ve been doing this for almost fifteen years now. I’ve spent hours with the main founders of this industry learning what works well and why it does. Entrepreneurs like Dane Scag, Bill Wright, Gary Kunz, and many others. I keep up with the current products and I try to be as impartial as I can to help you find the best product for you. I trust Consumer Reports to give accurate information for a selection of residential mowers and their testing is very specific. (I don’t always agree with them, but there product testing is always consistent) Beware, there are a huge number of websites that are only online to take your money. Especially, be very careful when a website only sends you to Amazon. eBay or a discount site like slick deals. Trust me, they have no expertise in mowers, have no warranty services set up, and may not even be from an English speaking country… That said,
If you are bored here is a list of all the mowers I’ve owned over the years. Mowers I have owned
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